October 31, 2011 — That’s the day United Nations demographers determined that planet Earth is now host to seven billion people. The number is significant for lots of reasons — the rapidity with which we reached this number, the concerns about food and energy and water and all of the resources needed to sustain such a large number of people on a very finite planet.
I wanted to write something about this topic for On the Front Lines, to talk about the link between population growth and access to family planning services. So I did some reading on the subject.
I read an extensive report from the Population Institute to see what they had to say about this milestone. This 36-page report is an in-depth analysis of the critical challenges we face, including:
- record-high numbers of hungry people around the globe
- rapid urbanization which contributes to growing urban slums
- water scarcity
- increasing competition for arable farm land
- rising energy prices
The report concludes that, “Empowering women and giving them family planning services and information may be the single most important thing that we can do to create a just and sustainable world.”
Then I came across a piece, entitled The Birth Control Solution by New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof. Kristof zeroes in on the issue of family planning and explains why support for programs like Title X (federal funding of family planning services) are essential to the well-being of humankind and the planet.
I encourage you to read Kristof’s excellent column. You’ll be glad you did.